Today we come to the final reflection in our series on Jesus as a model for our mission. In Jesus’ ministry he did not only do miracles but he also preached and taught. He often preached in the synagogues and his message seems to be “Repent because the kingdom of God is near”. This of course was the same message that John the Baptist preached. He was announcing what God was doing in through his own life. He was, in terms of what the church Father Oregon said he was the Auto-Kingdom: the “autobasilaia”. The kingdom of God is was near because the king is near.
Following Jesus in his mission we announce what God has done in Jesus Christ. God has brought his kingdom upon the earth. Jesus taught his disciples to pray saying “May your kingdom come may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Jesus is kingdom but his kingly rule is not universally accepted. The gospel is that God has brought his kingdom to bear upon the earth in the person and life and work of Jesus Christ. And we can be part of that kingdom through faith in him.
The preaching of the gospel is essential mission of the church. I do not like the oft-quoted phrase from Francis of Assisi, that we should “preach the gospel and if necessary use words”. It is always necessary to use words. There is never a time when actions are sufficient without words. For result may be that people may think that we do these good works because we are good people. And more importantly, they need to know the meaning of the actions we are doing. It is similar to what I said yesterday about the miracles. As the wife of René Padilla said, “words without actions are mere words and actions without words are mute”.
Finally in this series, Jesus taught his disciples. Teaching is another essential action in the mission of the church. This takes us back to Matthew’s Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). In this Great Commission we are told to “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Clearly teaching to obey is very important [that is demonstrating what it is to obey] but again the explanation is essential. This equips disciples for the work of mission.
Jesus taught in various ways. Firstly, he taught through parables. Parables were a very common way of teaching. People knew the genre of the parable. I am not suggesting that we also teach parables, however, the important lesson to draw from this is to use culturally appropriate forms to teach. This could be through film, drama, or even through song. Too often at preaching and teaching I’ve done in ways that do not allow the people who are listening to learn. We need to be creative.
Clearly Jesus had an agenda in his teaching. The sermons in Matthew and the groupings of parables in Luke demonstrate this. We can see this throughout the gospels. Luke especially in chapters 9 to 19 demonstrate how Jesus used circumstances as well. We can see this in the disciples question about the collapse of the tower in Luke13. Jesus uses the question in order to take the disciples. We can also see this in Matthew 24 when the disciples of Jesus were leaving the temple and saw how big the stones were in the temple and Jesus uses this circumstance in order to teach about the end times.
So let us learn from Jesus in his mission.